Erik Scholl’s coffee comes from the side of a volcano in Hawaii. His salt, straight from the island’s famed beaches. Everything at his two new businesses in the State Office Building — takeout lunch joint SOB Grinds and smoothie stand Shaka Shack — is inspired by island life.
Scholl’s businesses, which he runs with his girlfriend, Hawaii-bred Tianna Banua, aim to bring a little bit of the aloha lifestyle to the building’s more than 1,000 state workers. It’s a service he takes seriously.
“My thought process starting this new food adventure, was to put out a good product. I don’t care if it costs us a little more,” Scholl said during a recent interview at SOB Grinds. “As long as we could stay in business and my personal finances are taken care of, as long as my reputation is upheld, that’s all I care about for my business.”
Both locations still serve the lunchtime staples like burritos, salads and breakfast sandwiches. But both businesses bring a tropical twist. At SOB Grinds, they rotate in a different Hawaiian treat every day: sushi burritos (or “sushirittos”), musubi and teriyaki at SOB Grinds (grinds means “delicious food” in Hawaiian slang). Shaka Shack sells smoothies and açai bowls — which are like a fruit smoothie in a bowl with toppings, Scholl explained during a recent interview.
“We know people like Hawaiian food but it’s not like everybody in the building likes it, so we try to break it out throughout the week,” Scholl said. “We just try to make it fun and keep it lively for the people in the building.”
Feeding the SOB’s hundreds of workers is a tall task. Lunch and break times are hectic. Scholl’s businesses get swamped at breaks at 10-10:30 a.m., lunch at 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and an afternoon break at 3-3:30 p.m. To help with the rush, customers can order online through sobgrinds.com. Orders are ready to go in about 15 minutes. It cuts down on time spent in line during a lunch break.
“All they have to do literally is come, grab their items on the table, and go,” Scholl said. “They really appreciate it and it’s convenient for us.”
Scholl also runs Gla-Scholl Grinds, a shaved ice and entertainment company. It was a precursor to his two SOB locations. Scholl and Banua came up with the idea for the business while on a trip to Hawaii. Scholl joked that it would be funny to sell shaved ice in the cold weather of Juneau. She pushed him to give it a go.
“She’s the main brains behind it all. … She kind of started this and gave me that push like ‘you can do this,’” Scholl said.
Scholl operated Gla-Scholl Grinds at local events and The Alaska Club gym for several years. He jumped at the chance to open a permanent restaurant when he heard that the SOB had a vacant space. Being a business owner has given him a sense of pride. Scholl wasn’t personally invested in his former work as a bartender, he said, and has enjoyed the responsibility and satisfaction that comes from filling the state employees’ stomachs.
“I think being successful is doing what you love to do and being happy with what you’re doing. Being fulfilled with what you’re doing. It’s very fulfilling to put out a product that people love,” Scholl said.
• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.